With a seat at the NCAA’s top governance table, President Tim Cost has earned a prestigious spot that gives him the ability to help steer a nonprofit entity regulating nearly 1,300 educational institutions and helping nearly half a million student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.
It’s a rare opportunity to serve on the 24-member National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Board of Directors, and is reserved for those viewed as high-impact leaders who can help set the agenda for the mammoth organization.
“The easiest way to explain it is that all NCAA committees report up to the Division 1 Board, so not much can happen without the Board’s approval,” said Michael Smith, colleges and universities staff writer for the national SportsBusiness Journal. “Within the ranks, this is a highly important position. The board is made up of all presidents and chancellors except for a Faculty Athletic Representative, Athletic Director and a student-athlete.”
Cost began his term Sept. 1, after having served on the NCAA’s Presidential Forum. He will have oversight alongside leaders from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference, as well as several others. Other universities with representatives on the board include such institutions as Northwestern University, the University of Kentucky, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia and the U.S. Naval Academy.
High-level administrators at the NCAA had their eye on Cost.
“His time on the Presidential Forum will make his transition to the Board of Directors a smooth one. As a Forum member, he helped advise the board members on strategic issues facing Division I,” said the NCAA’s Kevin Lennon, vice president for Division I governance. “That insight will be valuable to the NCAA and his fellow board members as they set the strategic agenda for the division.”
The board he now joins serves as the overall governing body for Division I, with responsibility for strategy, policy, governance and membership with oversight over legislation. The Division I Presidential Forum has representatives from every Division I conference and assists the Board of Directors in accomplishing its strategic mission. Cost has been a member of the Forum since July 2015.
Committees reporting to the Division I Board of Directors include the Division I Council, a high-level group responsible for the day-to-day decision-making for Division I; the Committee on Infractions; the Infractions Appeals Committee; the Presidential Forum; and the Committee on Academics, which supports the Association’s academic mission through the management of Division I academics matters, including policy, eligibility standards and the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program (APP).
“It’s an honor to represent Jacksonville University on the NCAA Board of Directors,” said Cost. “For Jacksonville University to have a seat at the table alongside such successful institutions is tremendous for our university and conference.
“I look forward to not only working with these great leaders in college athletics, but also to contributing to conversations that will eventually lead to the improvement of the NCAA student-athlete experience.”
Josh Carpenter, assistant editor for SportsBusiness Daily, agreed a spot on the Board offers a chance to provide experience and leadership expertise guiding the trajectory of athletics for the colleges represented by the umbrella organization.
“It’s pretty significant. The board basically governs college athletics,” Carpenter said. “For instance, the Board of Directors voted last year to allow schools to increase spending to cover athletes’ full cost of attendance. It also oversaw the vote to give autonomy to the Power 5 conferences (those with the best football teams in the nation and members of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of collegiate football in the United States).”
Cost, who graduated magna cum laude from Jacksonville University in 1981 and was a baseball standout, was named the University’s 12th president on Feb. 1, 2013. In addition to his time on the NCAA Presidential Forum, he is a member of the NCAA Division I Sport Organization Committee, and is chairman of the Atlantic Sun Conference President’s Council.
Alex Ricker-Gilbert, Jacksonville’s recently-announced athletic director, also serves on the ASUN President’s Council as the AD representative. (UPDATE: In February 2017, Ricker-Gilbert was named a member of the NCAA Division 1 Council.)